With The Floating Bear floating peacefully on her mooring ball in Dinner Key, and a day or two of not doing much of anything at all, it is time to turn some attention to Kintala and her own project list. At the top of that list is the soft spot not far aft of her bow, favoring the port side, and encroaching on the cleat. It has been there since we bought the boat and reminded me of a task that needed done every time I went forward to attend to dropping or pulling the hook. Time to take a deep breath and crank up the cutter.
By the way, assaulting the bad core from the side is not in the books anywhere, at least not in any of the sailboat repair books I could find. According to the sailboat experts solid, un-compromised core has to be exposed in order to do a good repair. Since I have long lost faith in sailboat experts, some of this is getting made up as we go.
Anyway, tape lines laid down, the saw went to work. The trick is to cut deep enough to free the top layer but not deep enough to cut the bottom layer of the composite deck. (Or, in this case, deep enough to cut through the interior and open the V-berth to the sky.) It isn't nearly as hard to do as it sounds. There is a clear difference in feel when the blade slices through hard fiberglass into mushy wood. Once the cut was complete the task was to ease the top layer off without breaking it into several useless pieces.
The trick to that is to use a multitude of prying tools; screwdrivers, putty knives, picks, hacksaw blades, whatever works to separate the glass from the wood. Throw in a ton of patience. When something starts to crack, stop and take a different approach. It took more than an hour of being careful, but the top layer of deck came away as clean as could have been hoped.
The ugly lay underneath, exactly as expected. Water actually ran along the putty knives, screwdrivers and, eventually, vacuum cleaner attachment, as the work went on. Rotten wood covered a good bit of the fore deck before it was over. Eventually most of the evil core was gone and a DA sander went to work, smoothing out the top of the bottom layer of composite and the bottom of the top layer. So long as the sun was baking the repair it was left exposed to dry out. It gets covered at night in case of rain, but for the next day or two it will be left opened to dry.
That will give me time to plan the sideways attack on the bad core. There are several options. Latest and greatest would be to fill the undercut deck with structural foam. I worked with the stuff years ago while building experimental radar jamming drones to be launched from Nuke attack B-52's whose purpose was to give the Ruskies too many radar hits to shoot at. Once mixed it swells up like the Blob of horror picture shows then dries sin hard. But it isn't cheap and getting it in the right place at the right time can be a challenge.
Old school would be to make this part of the fore deck a solid laminate using glass mat and resin, stuffing the voids using any tools that work. Middle school would be to mix up some resin and thicken it with silicon to fill the voids. The concern with both of these is, given the angles and areas involved, getting a solid fill. I'll have to think on this one a bit.
All in all though, the focus is back on Kintala and getting her ready to go cruising again. And that is a good kind of focus.